A Secret Keeps

Overview

Before a weekend visit to his grandparents' farm, a little boy discovers that his grandpa has a secret waiting for him. "Grampa, what's the secret," he asks, but all Grampa will say is, "Finders keepers."

Is the secret in the barn? With the chickens? Hiding in the corn? When the boy finally discovers the answer, he realizes that a secret is indeed for keeping.

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Overview

Before a weekend visit to his grandparents' farm, a little boy discovers that his grandpa has a secret waiting for him. "Grampa, what's the secret," he asks, but all Grampa will say is, "Finders keepers."

Is the secret in the barn? With the chickens? Hiding in the corn? When the boy finally discovers the answer, he realizes that a secret is indeed for keeping.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - JoAn Watson Martin
The farm and surrounding pastures and fields float into pastoral scenes. A boy's weekend visit to his grandparent's farm illustrates everything that makes a farm such a lovely place: cows, roosters, peeper frogs, fields and fences, a campfire and coyotes. The kitchen scene features a refrigerator covered with grandchildren's artwork. Nothing arouses more curiosity, perks up ears, or creates more questions than a secret. "Finders Keepers" is all Grampa will say. When the boy asks Gramma if she knows the secret, she says, "A secret is for keeping." Cali Cat only stares. Gus Cat washes his paws. Maybe the secret is hiding high in the barn's rafters. The boy wonders if the cornfield might have heard the secret. After all, a cornfield is "all ears." He wishes he had the eyes of the owls so he could spot the secret. He tries to sing himself to sleep, "I see the moon, the moon sees me," but still no answers. Finally the small boy can wait no longer. One dark and scary night he sneaks out of the house. When he hears a small "mew," he bravely climbs up the barn ladder and finds kittens pouncing high and low. Now he turns the tables and reminds his grandparents, "It's not a secret if you tell. A secret is for keeping." Heather Solomon's art contributes to the calming, quiet atmosphere. Reviewer: JoAn Watson Martin
Kirkus Reviews
Chall employs alliteration and rhyme to lyrically portray a young boy's quiet adventure on his grandparents' farm. After a car trip that lasts "two sleeps," the boy is eager to find the secret his Grampa has promised in this bucolic landscape. He questions his grandparents and the animals during a campfire, a henhouse visit and a cornfield trek. At bedtime the moon inspires him to slip outside. Under the moonlight he fancies himself a pirate going aboard a galleon. "Where is the secret treasure?" "I find the ladder, / take a breath, / then climb up to the loft. / Shhhh, the pirate hushes. / Then something brushes, / something soft." Astute readers will already know the answer from a foreshadowed "mew." It is the interplay between the author's poetic language and the lush illustrations Solomon provides that elevates the story from the usual new-pet fare. A mix of various paints and collage creates dreamy settings rooted with sharp details. On a pivotal spread, watery deep-blue barn planks bleed together while the finely detailed straw focuses readers' attention (and the boy's) to the destination of his surprise. "Finders, keepers" does apply. This sophisticated farmyard tale is sprinkled with gentle plays on words and is sure to spark discussion about secrets of all kinds--those to keep, discover and share. (Picture book. 4-7)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—A boy travels with his family to his grandparents' farm where his grandpa says a secret awaits him. During the long car ride that night and through the next day, the youngster longs to know what it is. When he finally gets there, he searches the henhouse, the barn, and even the cornfield, talking to the animals as he goes, but the secret eludes him. Finally, unable to sleep, he heads outside pretending to be a pirate boarding a galleon (the barn) where he once again seeks his treasure. This time he finds newborn kittens playing in the loft and happily discovers that the one wrapping itself around his feet is his "secret for keeping." The rhyming text, filled with assonance and alliteration, is lovely. However, while many passages seem authentic coming from the mouth of the youngster ("the moon follows me to the farm"; "cock-ee-doodlely-doo!/Old Rudy crows..."; "jillions of peeper frogs leap and peep"), it is difficult to believe he would describe marshmallows as "molten" or say such things as "Night tucks in around us/and rustles in the dark." The mixed-media spreads, executed in a muted palette, depict a working farm with planted fields, a hay-strewn barn with soaring swallows and frolicking kittens, and a slower pace where family members play checkers and roast marshmallows under a starry sky. Any child who has ever anticipated a surprise or experienced the delight of a new pet will enjoy this story.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761355939
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.80 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Marsha Wilson Chall is the author of many books for young readers, including Up North at the Cabin, One Pup's Up, and Pick a Pup. Marsha teaches in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline University. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, dog, and several secretive barn cats. Visit her online at www.marshachall.com. Heather M. Solomon earned a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for the picture book Clever Beatrice, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award. She lives in New Mexico and shares her secrets with her husband, daughter, and son.

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